We have experienced and also going through the harsh climatic change. Have we given it a thought about the reasons for this drastic climatic change? There are many reasons for this.one of the major reason is deforestation. Let us discuss about what is deforestation, the causes and effects of deforestation and also measures to prevent it. While discussing all these, as the saying goes, “there are two sides for a coin”, deforestation has few benefits too. Hence let us see what those are, in this post.
What is deforestation?
As we all know, forests is an ecosystem where dense trees grow along with other plants and animals in a physical environment. It is these forests that control and balance the ecosystem. The only economic benefit of forests is its timber which has varied uses. Other important benefits of these forests are tremendous supply of oxygen, support wildlife, checks on the water table, reduces pollution, has a control over the climate and temperature, retains the quality of soil, supports the diversity in plant life and avoids soil erosion. Deforestation the other hand, is cutting down of trees and clearing of forests for the benefit and development of mankind. In other words, deforestation means conversion of forest land into non forest area resulting in degradation of the ecosystem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 18 million acres of forests are lost every year around the globe due to industrial revolution.
CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION
- Over population : Over population is one of the major reasons for deforestation. As the population increases, more land is needed for accommodation and other purposes. Cutting of trees is proportional to the increase in the number of people.
- Timber harvest : Timber is of great value in the modern day world. It is of high demand in the national and international market. Trees are cut and are mostly used for its timber. A lot of revenue is generated by people in obtaining and dispatching of good quality timber which has varied uses. Since timber collection is a growing business, it is illegal in most of the countries. More than 75% of procuring timber is done illegally.
- Expansion of agriculture : Agricultural plantations has taken over the forest. 49% of the forest has been cut for agricultural due to the increasing demand for its goods. Since agriculture easily degradates the soil fertility, these lands are further assigned for cattle rearing.
- Expansion of infrastructure : This is one of the striking reasons for deforestation. Tones of trees have been cut and will be cut to build roadways, railways and airways.
- Forest fire : Unforeseen forest fire is another reason for deforestation. Although it is a very natural phenomenon, large areas have been devastated due to this wild fire.
- Over grazing of cattle : Cattle ranching is another reason for deforestation. Large forest area has been cleared for grazing and raising of cattle.
- Practice of shifting cultivation : Shifting agriculture is a type of agriculture in which a land is continuously used for farming and as soon as the land loses its fertility, another land is taken again for cultivation. Since it is a common practice acres of land has become infertile and more trees are being cut for cultivation.
EFFECTS OF DEFORESTATION
- Global warming : The trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through a process called photosynthesis. So when trees are cut the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide gets disrupted. So ultimately the carbon dioxide levels increases and it doesn’t allow heat to escape from earth thus leading to global warming. Deforestation is the major reason behind global warming.
- Soil erosion : Deforestation and soil erosion go hand in hand. The trees and its roots act as a bodyguard and help the soil to stay in place. All the vegetation holds back the top most layer of soil rich in humus. All these are washed away due to deforestation. The rate of soil loss after deforestation is surprising.
- Loss in biodiversity : Forest are homes that provide food and shelter to plants, animals, insects, birds, worms and lot of microbial organisms like bacteria and fungi. Deforestation disrupts their natural habitat thus losing a lot of varied species of all these.
- Flooding : Deforestation causes severe flooding. The soil in the deforested area is incapable to hold water so as a result mudslides and floods gets triggered.
- Climate change : The climate also gets affected by deforestation. This is mainly because of the change in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Researchers have predicted a drastic change in the climate in the upcoming years.
- Desertification : All the above mentioned factors along with deforestation lead to desertification. As the climate gets warmer the natural texture of the soil reduces making it dry. This soil becomes infertile and unfit for cultivation. In the long run this will lead to desertification.
- Silting of rivers and dams : Sediments are deposited in rivers and dams due to soil erosion caused by deforestation. This reduces the lifespan of dams.
- Limited source : Forests are natural resource and due to heavy cutting of trees, it has become limited and scarce. Forests are on the path of extinction due to deforestation.
- Loss of medicines : Forests is abundant in natural source of medicines. All these are at stake because of deforestation.
BENEFITS OF DEFORESTATION
- It provides employment opportunities to large number of people.
- Provides raw materials to many industries.
- Charcoal is obtained by cutting down of trees, which is a good source of energy.
- Activates economic development and growth leading to urbanization.
- The demand of food and the supply of food can be equalized due to deforestation.
- Provides more land for residential purpose.
- Deforestation is beneficial for grazing of cattle.
- It is a revenue generating process for the lower income class.
MEASURES TO CONTROL DEFORESTATION
- Reforestation : The best way to heal the loss is to plant more and more trees. If a tree is cut for any commercial purpose, 10 trees should be simultaneously planted.
- Environmental organizations : All of us should lend a helping hand towards these organizations that support and replenish the environment. Money can be lended and voluntary works can be organized to buy and plant more trees.
- Proper awareness : Proper awareness should be created among all citizens regarding the after effects of deforestation so as to protect the future generations of mankind.
- Recycled products : Consumers should be encouraged to use recycled items like paper, books, bags and notebooks so that no extra trees need to be cut for the manufacture these items.
- Forest protection act : Forest protection act should be amended and strictly followed so as to avoid illegal timber collection.
- Farming practices : A change in the farming practices can reduce deforestation. Rather than using shifting agriculture it is more feasible to use rotation cropping.
To conclude, deforestation is global issue affecting the ecosystem. All the valuable trees are devastated. This is a man made issue which can be easily sorted by adopting the above mentioned strategies. If greater steps are not taken towards afforestation, this can lead to the extinction of mankind. The future of the earth depends upon us, humans. Thus we should protect our earth and save our planet by planting more and more trees which will be an asset to the upcoming generation.